Urban Fantasy Author
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Her Highland Rogue
Genre: Historical romance, Highlander
Publisher: Random House/Loveswept
Date of Publication: June 21, 2016
Number of pages: 170
Word Count: 52,000
Cover Artist: Random House
Errol MacRae’s days of gallivanting across the Highlands are nearing an end. His father’s health has taken a turn for the worse, and rumors are swirling that the crown intends to transfer ancient lands into the hands of the MacKenzies, the clan the MacRaes are sworn to defend. Errol expects to lead his men into battle soon. So he isn’t pleased when his father instead sends him to retrieve a beautiful flame-haired lass who has fled into the mountains.
Orphaned as a young girl, Aileana vividly remembers how the MacRaes rescued her and welcomed her into their clan. For ten years, she has served them loyally—until the night she’s nearly despoiled by one of the laird’s captains. Aileana risks her life and her reputation to seek refuge in the snowcapped peaks of the Five Sisters, the one place that has always felt like home. But after the strong-armed, strong-willed Errol tracks her down in a blizzard, she finds herself tempted to risk something even more dangerous: her heart.
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Aileana opened her eyes, confused by her surroundings. She’d fled the MacRae stronghold after Broc cornered her in the kitchen, long after the other women had gone abovestairs to sleep. She’d stupidly volunteered to keep watch over the remaining men in the hall in case they required more bread and meat—or in Broc’s case, more ale. Once she’d refilled his cup, even leaving a full pitcher behind for the great beast to finish off, he stumbled after her, smelling of sweat and spirits, and drooling on her neck.
She’d known him nearly all her life—at least for the time she remembered being alive. Before her tenth year, she held no clear memories. The occasional flash of a face or spoken word, but nothing that could connect her to a family or place. So she wandered through life nameless, though the MacRae laird had offered to recognize her as part of his clan. But whenever she considered it, something inside her warned not to do it. For once ye denied your name, whether you knew it or not, your fate might change. And she didn’t want to lose her only chance at true happiness. Deep down, Aileana knew there was more to her existence than being a bastard.
That’s what half the women within the MacRae keep called her. Behind her back mostly, but sometimes directly if she was blamed for burning the bread or spilling wine.
She kicked off the fur covering her from neck-to-foot, cold air sending a chill down her body. A fire burned at the opening of the rock enclosure, and she padded over to it, desperate for warmth. She stared beyond the flames, the world outside covered in white. Winter had come early to Kintail. And only by God’s grace had she met a woman last night in the hills. How could she turn down an offer of hot stew and a pallet to sleep on? So she’d walked quietly with the stranger to her cave.
As soon as she finished eating and drained her cup of wine, sleep overwhelmed her. That’s all she remembered. And now she woke up alone. But there was a loaf of bread and a cup of milk on the table by her pallet, hopefully meant for her to eat. Her stomach growled with hunger.
“Good morning,” Aileana heard as she reached for the cup.
She turned and met the woman’s smile. “Thank ye for allowing me to stay here last night. I’m afraid I have nothing to offer you, no money or goods to trade.”
The woman joined her, picked up the loaf of bread, then tore it in half. “I don’t remember asking for payment, child.”
“But your generosity must be rewarded in some way.”
“Aye,” she agreed. “Your company will do nicely.”
Aileana took a bite and it melted in her mouth, as tasty as what she cooked every morning in the MacRae kitchens. “Whatever you wish,” she said. “I prefer staying here. I wasn’t prepared for the snow. If ye hadn’t found me, I’m afraid I would have perished in the cold.” Though she had a fur cloak and thick-soled boots, she hadn’t had time to gather anything else before she ran away.
The woman sat down. “My name is Sgùrr.”
The woman studied her in silence, her dark gaze wandering more than once to her hair. “Who is your father?”
Aileana took another sip of milk, then put the cup down on the table. The idea of admitting to a stranger that she had no family was as humiliating as what Broc had done to her. “I don’t know.”
“And why were you roaming the hills alone? Surely someone will miss ye?”
“Laird MacRae is my guardian.”
“Your mother has passed?”
“I’m afraid I know nothing about my birth.” She walked the couple feet to her pallet and picked up her cloak. “Eight years ago a MacRae guard found me in the forest, cold and hungry, close to death I’ve been told. He bundled me in a blanket and took me home with him. I’ve lived there ever since.”
“Has the laird been kind and generous?”
“Laird MacRae is not only kind, but treats me as his own daughter. A day never passes without him greeting me. Sometimes I wonder what would have become of me if the MacDonalds or MacLeods found me instead.”
The older woman nodded. “Don’t put much stock in the affairs of men. Clan feuds are the last thing a lass needs to worry about. ’Tis your heart and charitable acts that define your character.”
About the Author:
Raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, Violetta Rand spent her childhood reading, writing, and playing soccer. After meeting her husband in New England, they moved to Alaska where she studied environmental science and policy before attending graduate school. Violetta then spent nearly a decade working as a scientist, specializing in soil and water contamination and environmental assessments.
Violetta still lives in Alaska and spends her days writing romance. When she's not reading, writing, or editing, she enjoys time with her husband, pets, and friends. In her free time, she loves to hike, fish, and ride motorcycles and 4-wheelers.
Errol MacRae, the Highland hero, is next in line to become the leader of his clan. His father has failing health and Errol is expected to marry and produce an heir to fulfill his duties. When he is tasked by his father to save a young maid, Aileana, from running away, he finally meets his match. No longer will women be mere playthings and exist for his amusement, or to attend to his personal needs.
Aileana has been a servant for the MacRae clan since she was taken in at 10 with no memory of her past. Disrespected by a clansman, she has run away and it's only fitting that Errol's father send his philandering son to fetch her back. Though Aileana first seems timid and unable to fend for herself, she grows and develops into a strong and more confident woman, discovering her history and lineage and becoming sort of woman able to hold her own with a future laird like Errol.
Amidst an historic Scottish Highland in turmoil, Ms Rand let’s the reader follow these two strong highlanders through some misadventures of their own and others making before finding their ultimate HEA. A fine start to this Wild Highland series, fans of kilts and brogues will not be disappointed.
Book Bling gives this 4 Stars!
In a wicked game, the God of Love falls to his own arrow, and a gentle scholar learns how dangerous knowledge can be.
Aphrodite has had it.
It was bad enough that her son Eros walked a fashion show in drag, but did he really have to show the entire world his wings? Desperate to rein in the impulsive young god, she recruits the scholarly muse Rees to lure him back to Olympus until the scandal dies down.
After hundreds of years, Eros has finally located the reincarnation of his former love, Psyche. The only way to her heart is through fame, so the God of Love plans a daring campaign to win her back. Yet the closer he gets to Psyche, the more he’s drawn to a geeky young professor who came crashing into his life.
Eros drags Rees into his wicked world of high fashion and risqué parties, only to expose him to danger from an unexpected source. When Rees’ secrets come out, they threaten to destroy Eros’ love for him. Yet when Rees is kidnapped, Eros is forced to turn to the woman who set this catastrophe in motion—his mother, Aphrodite.
Reader Advisory: This book contains some scenes of kidnapping/captivity and graphic scenes of death and violence. This book also contains references to/discussions of rape.
Pride Publishing: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/the-tenth-muse
He looked up and relief flooded through him—Eros strode down the hall. He was clad in a long black coat over jeans and a T-shirt. Oddly, his hair was messy and one eye seemed swollen. There was a slight bruise at the corner of his mouth, making it a little lopsided.
The feeling of dread returned. His entire existence narrowed down to the blond god approaching him, and once again, he was dizzy. Everything was about to change.
He broke away from the other two, briefly forgetting their presence. “Is everything all right?” He reached and brushed his fingers against the injury, and Eros flinched away.
Gods didn’t bruise easily.
“Why do you think something’s wrong?”
Even Eros’ voice was odd…strained. “Just one question, Rees. Did she send you? Did my mother send you for me?”
“W-what?” His heart crashed. For an eternity, maybe longer, they stood staring at each other, oblivious to Barry and Elena. It took Rees a moment to recover, then he took Eros by the arm and led him into the makeup room.
“Don’t bother to deny it, you may be good at deception, but you aren’t very good at the outright lie. The truth is on your face.”
Eros waited, gazing at Rees, and what little hope that lingered in his eyes withered and died. Rees was at a loss for words. How did he explain…how did he justify his actions?
“Yes. She hired me to keep an eye on you. To keep you out of the tabloids. She was—”
“Fuck!” Eros shook him off, walking away. It didn’t matter that he gave Rees his back, he could see the god’s furious image reflected back in dozens of mirrors.
“Who hurt you, Eros?”
He turned, facing Rees. “What else?”
Rees swallowed, his mouth suddenly parched. “She wants you to go home. To Olympus. I explained about Psyche, so she agreed to give you more time. Rumors are beginning to spread, though. Both here and…there. We were trying… We were trying to keep it from Ares.”
Obviously, they’d failed.
Eros stood, his golden head bowed. When he looked up, his blue eyes glittered. He laughed bitterly, the sound harsh and angry.
“Of course, it was all for my own good. The timing was perfect. I was able to fob off Ares with the promise of good behavior. I believe I might also have agreed to spend time with him…learning.”
“No.” Rees shook his head in denial. “You don’t belong with him.” The thought of Eros at the mercy of the God of War…it sickened him. “Eros, you know what you did. You know Aphrodite did the best she could. You may be immortal, but that doesn’t make you immune from the wrath of the pantheon.”
He stepped forward, reaching out, and Eros backed away. He let his hand drop.
“Did my mother suggest that you seduce me? Brilliant plan, except that she had to realize how…how furious I’d be when I found out.” He shoved a hand through his hair. “I find that at the moment, I hate my mother. I hate you too. The difference is, in time I’ll forgive her, because I know she acted out of love. You though…”
“I do, Eros. I didn’t lie. I lo—”
“Stop! Don’t say it.” Eros took a step back. And another. “I packed your things and sent them to your hotel. I’m sure you won’t need the room, you can just flash back to wherever you came from.”
“I can’t, Eros. I have no powers, not anymore.”
Eros rolled his eyes. “I’m sure you’ll manage. Aphrodite must have you covered in some way, right? Now move out of my way so I can leave.” He blinked rapidly, tears filling his brilliant eyes. “I can’t believe she was so stupid to send you and not realize I’d figure it out. And you know what gave it all away?”
Wordlessly, Rees shook his head.
“Your friend out there…Barry. He said…he said you’re like a muse. And I didn’t really understand the literal fact. But you are, aren’t you? A Muse?”
Rees shook his head. He pressed a hand to the wall, fighting to stay on his feet. “My sisters, they are. I’m just a teacher.”
Eros stared at him, an expression of near-horror on his face. “Gods. You’re the son of Mnemosyne and Zeus. You’re a full-on fucking god. You’re literally the Tenth Muse. Too reclusive to walk among the humans or even to visit Olympus. You came from your gleaming castle in the Elysian Fields just for me. I’m so honored.”
He pressed a hand over his heart and gave a mocking bow. He then edged past Rees as though he were something repulsive. “Go back to your life in those shining heavens. Bother me no more, Rees, or I promise you’ll know the revenge of Eros, and it will not be pretty.”
Belinda was born in Inglewood, California, but grew up far to the north in the shadow of Mt. Shasta. While her upbringing seemed pretty normal to her, she was surrounded by a fascinating array of friends and family, including various cowboys, hippies, scoundrels and saints.
She has a degree in history and cultural anthropology, but in 2006 made the life-changing decision to quit her job as a public health paraprofessional and stay at home full time to care for her severely disabled niece. This difficult decision gave Belinda the gift of time, which allowed her to return to writing fiction, which she’d abandoned years before.
Belinda’s hobbies include soap making, dog shows, collecting gemstones, travel, and Chinese martial arts. She has two daughters, three Siberian Huskies, two Salukis, and an array of wild birds that visit the feeders in the front yard.
As an author, Belinda loves crossing genres, kicking taboos to the curb, and pulling from world mythology and folklore for inspiration. She won the Passionate Plume in science fiction for her m/m romance An Uncommon Whore and the EPIC in paranormal romance for Blacque/Bleu, and in science fiction for The Bacchi. She, along with co-authors Cherise Sinclair and Sierra Cartwright were nominated for an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award.
I like to say that I've never met a mythological being I didn't love and McBride's are no exception. If the Greek gods were driven by larger than life human characteristics and emotions (and they were), then McBride has captured the essence and flavor, the essential mythos of the genre in this character-driven story.
One can’t help but appreciate the passion and anger the main character, Eros, feels as he experiences the betrayal and disappointment only centuries of longing and denial of his true love can produce, and McBride portrays his emotion in a believable way and sets the scene for the sequence of rather spectacular events that follow. It's a love story, after all, his long lost love, Psyche, that he feels he can't live without that leads him to earth where he meets a new love, Rees, (secretly sent by his mother to seduce and bring him home) who he thinks he doesn't care about, until he realizes he does.
There are other gods and demi-gods and muses and amusements and world-building aplenty to keep you rooting for your next favorite role players in this series, because between fashion model cross-dressing and love interest gender-swapping, the main character in this novel plays no favorites at all and shoots his arrows wherever they fly. This romance novel is certainly not for the gender-friender shy.
Book Bling gives this 4 stars!
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Elizabeth Alsobrooks's books on Goodreads
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